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International Safety & Security

It's important to be aware of the safety and security risks associated with traveling abroad. Some of these risks are specific to the country you're visiting while others can have an impact regardless of your destination. Below are safety and security tips, and best practices that we recommend for all of our international travelers. If you have questions or concerns about safety and security while traveling abroad, contact us.

Research Your Destination

It's important to thoroughly research your destination before you start a education abroad program. 

  • U.S. Department of State issues information and advisories for every country in the world. They include such information related to embassies/consulates, entry requirements, safety and security, local laws, health, and transportation.

  • U.S. Department of State Students Abroad provides useful, easy-to-access information for students from the U.S. traveling abroad.

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers pre-departure travel advice specifically for education abroad students and travel health advisories.

  • International SOS has security reports for your destination and their experts can give you advice relating to your health, safety, and security. Call their 24/7 Scholastic Assistance Line at 1-215-942-8478, access their web-portal, and download their app.

Safety Tips

  • Always be alert within your environment and public places
  • Develop a buddy system with your classmates
  • Report and know how to report suspicious activity
  • If you are approached by a stranger, exercise caution. If they engage you in a way that feel unusual or off-putting, extract yourself from the situation and do not worry about being rude. Report what happened to your program director or a trusted local contact. 
  • Limit time spent at popular tourist sites, crowded public areas, or high profile events 
  • Reduce location identifiers on social media
  • Walk where there is a barrier present between traffic and pedestrians when possible
  • Avoid traveling alone especially at night
  • Do not wear expensive clothes, jewelry or carry expensive luggage
  • Avoid arriving late at night in cities with which you are not familiar
  • Stay on well-lit, heavily-traveled streets
  • Avoid shortcuts through alleys and walking close to the street or buildings
  • Walk against the flow of traffic so you are aware of oncoming vehicles
  • Whenever possible, speak the local language
  • Be aware of pickpockets, especially in large cities
  • If you are the victim of a robbery, do not resist or try to confront the person afterward. Report what happened to your program director or a trusted local contact. 
  • Never leave your belongings unattended
  • Be aware of local customs and traditions
  • Keep up with local news
  • Familiarize yourself with the city and the neighborhood. Avoid relying on your cellphone for navigation (it makes it obvious you are a tourist!)
  • If you encounter a corrupt police officer requesting payment for an unjustified fine, remain patient and friendly. Keep a consistent reason as to why you cannot pay the fine. If the officer doesn't relent, request to speak to their superior officer. 
  • Do not misuse alcohol and abide by MSU's zero-tolerance drug use policy. Consuming mind-altering substances in a foreign environment can be dangerous.
  • Never accept a drink from a stranger or leave a drink unattended.
  • Do not participate in any demonstrations and protests. Even those with peaceful intentions may become unsafe and/or involve negative confrontations with local law enforcement. If you are accidentally caught up in a demonstration, leave the area as soon as it is safe to do so


Swimming & Water Activities

  • Know your swimming abilities.
  • Be sure you are swimming in a safe location – whenever possible, swim in a location with lifeguard staff.
  • Be mindful of ocean currents, riptides, and undertows.
  • Use the buddy system while swimming.
  • When swimming in a group, conduct a headcount before entering the water and immediately upon exiting the water.
  • Do not consume alcohol before or during swimming or water activities.

On the Road

  • Select the safest form of transportation in your area
  • Understand how seasonal hazards affect road conditions
  • Pedestrians should be aware of traffic patterns and regulations 
  • Be alert and wear reflective clothing if jogging at dusk or dawn
  • Do not walk where you cannot be seen 
  • Never hitchhike 
  • Always ride in the back seat of a taxi cab
  • Wear a seatbelt whenever possible
  • Avoid late night road travel

Document Safety

  • Make two photocopies of your passport, including the photo page, and any other travel documentation such as a visa. Leave a copy with your emergency contact at home and pack a second copy separately from the original.
  • In some locations, you may need to carry your passport with you. You are advised to use a money belt to keep your passport close to your person at all times.
  • If it is not necessary to carry your passport with you, carry a photocopy of your passport instead.
  • If your passport is lost or stolen while abroad, file a report with local police. Do not delay in replacing your passport with the nearest Embassy or Consulate. 
  • If you require a visa to enter the United States, do not forget to bring your documents with you abroad.



Rental (AirBnB) Tips: 

  • We recommend hotels over AirBnB or similar rentals. But if you intend to use AirBnB, please review these safety tips.
  • Rent the entire unit - not just a room, bed, or sofa. There should be no other occupants than you and, if applicable, your MSU group.
  • Whenever possible, chose a rental with a business certification and amenities similar to a hotel.
  • Only choose a rental with a history of positive reviews and a high rating. 
  • If you have the address, try to research the neighborhood and surrounding community.
    • If you have doubts about the safety of the location, trust your instincts and look for something else.
  • Ask and confirm the price ahead of time. Keep in mind any currency exchanges and confirm the method of payment before you arrive.
    • If using AirBnB, you should only communicate and pay your host through AirBnB. Do not wire them money or provide your credit card details remotely. 
  • Let trusted contacts know where you are staying. Give them the address, host's name, and contact information. 
  • If you are arriving alone, tell someone you will check in with them after your scheduled initial meeting to report you are safe.
  •  Once you arrive, check the entire unit for any cameras, strange wires, or electronics that seem out of place - these could be used for surveillance.
    • Remember to look in closets and cabinets, inspect the smoke detector, and check if the door and window locks are secure. 
  • AirBnB's Safety Suggestions, FAQ, and Company Contact Information 

General Housing Tips

  • Lock your doors and windows when you leave and when you're home (even if you're only stopping in for a few minutes).
  • If someone knocks on your door, look through the peephole before opening. If you do not recognize them, question them through the door if it feels safe to do so. 
  • Do not prop open exterior locked doors. 
  • If you have roommates, communicate with each other when you are having guests over. Do not lend out your keys and urge your roommates to not lend out theirs. 
  • Ensure you are aware of the emergency exit from your unit and your building. 
  • If an unfamiliar person is hanging around outside your building or door, call a trusted local contact or the police for guidance. 
  • Remember to close your window shades at night. 
  • If a repair or service person shows up unexpectedly, you are not obligated to automatically let them in. Instead, call your landlord/host/roommates to confirm a scheduled appointment and their legitimacy. 
  • Do not post identifying information about your housing location online. Be selective with what information you share on social media.